Decoding Ravi Ashwin…

The game of cricket has transformed by leaps and bounds. From cricket to 50 over matches and now, from 50 over matches to the bang-bang Twenty20 matches. Cricketers need to adapt. They need to perform well across different conditions and formats. Pressure of performing consistently has never been this high.Being a good batsman isn’t enough, you need to be an excellent fieldsman and a more than useful bowler as well.

The Indian National cricket team’s so-called ‘never-ending’ search for a genuine test all-rounder seems to have finally ended. The transformation of the tall and lanky lad from Chennai (Ravi Ashwin) has been nothing short of exceptional.  The thing that makes him one of India’s most valuable cricketers is the fact that the bowler in him can think like a batsman,anticipating what the opponent is trying to do. Furthermore,the batsman in him can think like a bowler, avoiding ploys and traps.

Ashwin has been appreciated by cricket pundits all over the world for his exceptional strike-rate of five wicket hauls. He has further gained appreciation for his ability to make valuable contributions down the order, but his inability to replicate this prolific run on foreign soils has been criticized.

ravichandran-ashwin-jamaica-.jpg. You can’t be called a complete cricketer just because you pile of the runs and pick wickets on your home-soil. Don Bradman, one of the hungriest cricketers to ever pick up the piece of willow, isn’t considered by some cricket pundits to be a complete cricketer for having played in only two countries.

Ashwin’s rise as a genuine all-rounder has a variety of reasons. First of all, his ability to stay firm at one end while batting. Secondly, his technique, which is quite okay (remember we are talking about a guy who bats at seven or eight). Thirdly, he is someone who has almost all the orthodox shots in his kitty. While he has the ball in hand, his variations make him a lethal weapon capable of destroying even the world’s best batting line up.

The key to understanding Ashwin’s value lies in unlocking the many successful transformations he has gone through. He started his career as a batsman who could bowl occasional medium pace. Now he has transitioned into one of the finest off-spinners the game of cricket has ever seen. He was the first one to realize that his physique isn’t built for speed. He won’t be able to beat most of his teammates in a sprint. He has spent considerable time ensuring he has a safe pair of hands when it comes to catching.

Ashwin has altered his bowling technique on more than one occasions. From the time he starts from the mark, builds the momentum towards the crease, then loads up, pivots up and releases one of his many deliveries. Ashwin does not merely live cricket, he loves it. And it appears as if the game of cricket is loving him back.

Talking of records, Ashwin is the quickest to reach 200 test wickets.Since January 2015, he has completed  five wicket hauls 14 times in 20 tests. That is sheer greatness.His all round displays are a case in  point. He has thus far won an identical six Man Of The Match and Man Of The Series awards in test match cricket this year. The man who seems to have perfected the art of bowling a ‘carrom ball’ does not believe in going after records. He keeps on dismissing batsmen and the records keep tumbling as well. Presently, Ashwin has 72 test scalps from 12 test matches he has been a part of this year, making him the highest wicket-taker this year.

Ashwin has already had some stellar performances to his credit. Considering his rising stature and the kind of form he’s in,  the best may just be round the corner. A long home season awaits Ashwin as he’ll be seen flexing his muscles against the mighty Aussies in the spring of 2017. We’re surely in for a tour de force or two from this prodigiously gifted and talented all-rounder.

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